Protesters Criticize NYC Handling of Freddie Gray Demonstrations - NBC New York

Protesters Criticize NYC Handling of Freddie Gray Demonstrations



    Protesters Lash Out At NYPD Response to Demonstrations

    Protesters in NYC who marched in unity with Baltimore say they were unfairly treated and arrested by the NYPD, but city leaders have a message for those hitting the streets again. Marc Santia reports. (Published Thursday, April 30, 2015)

    Some activists and elected officials are criticizing the NYPD's handling of protests over the death of a Baltimore man critically injured in police custody.

    The group claimed Thursday that the NYPD was overly aggressive and at times violent.

    Police Commissioner William Bratton said 143 people were arrested Wednesday night during a rally and march over the death of Freddie Gray. Gray suffered a severe spinal injury in the custody of Baltimore police. He later died.

    Bratton said police would be "more assertive" in dealing with demonstrators who try to block roads or bridges than they were during December protests in the wake of the Eric Garner grand jury decision.

    Dozens Arrested at Freddie Gray Protests in NYC

    [NY] Dozens Arrested at Freddie Gray Protests in NYC
    Protesters are marching in New York City to call for justice in the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who died in police custody after suffering serious spinal injuries, sparking violent protests across the Maryland city. Checkey Beckford reports.
    (Published Wednesday, April 29, 2015)

    "It's the balancing we do," he said. "You have the right to protest. We'll work with you to allow you to protest. Protest as much as you want." 

    At the start of the rally in Union Square Wednesday evening, police made announcements and handed out fliers asking protesters to stay off the roads and to not block traffic. When those orders were ignored, police had to take action, officials said. 

    "One thing is clear: when police give you instruction, you follow instruction. It's not debatable," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

    De Blasio insisted that there was not a fundamental change in police treatment of demonstrators.

    "The strategic approach is exactly the same," he said. "We are going to respect non-violent protest and we will accommodate it in all sorts of flexible ways." 

    NYPD Chief Jim O'Neill added, "Everyone in this room watched what unfolded in Baltimore, so of  course it was on my mind, but not as far as how we strategized." 

    Arrests at Freddie Gray Protests in NYC

    [NY] Arrests at Freddie Gray Protests in NYC
    Around a dozen protesters were arrested in New York City for blocking the streets during a Baltimore unity rally near Union Square Wednesday evening. This video shows the same arrest scene from the ground and from Chopper 4.
    (Published Wednesday, April 29, 2015)

    Protesters who marched on bridges and highways during the Eric Garner demonstrations last December, sometimes shutting them down, may have expected similar latitude Wednesday. They say they instead encountered stricter police on the ground. 

    Jason Walker said he was mistreated and unjustly cuffed during the protests. 

    "There was no sidewalk for us to move to," he said. "They said, 'Move to the sidewalks.' We said, 'Where?' Then four officers tackled me down to the ground." 

    Police aren't discouraging protests, Bratton said.

    "This is a city that likes to protest. It's something that's ingrained in New Yorkers," he said. 

    In a statement from activist group Communities United for Police Reform, spokeswoman Priscilla Gonzalez said: “Our communities have been brutalized and killed by police despite following the law for decades, and last night New Yorkers were once again brutalized by the NYPD for simply protesting."

    Police Block Holland Tunnel to Protesters

    [NY] Police Block Holland Tunnel to Protesters
    Police briefly blocked the outbound side of the Holland Tunnel to protesters Wednesday evening. It was reopened shortly afterward.
    (Published Wednesday, April 29, 2015)

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